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Random Lugnuts: Chevy Dominance and Gordon's Goof

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Chevrolet, Robby Gordon What is Random Lugnuts?  It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan.  The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop:  you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Random Lugnuts: Chevy Dominance and Gordon's Goof

Bill Crittenden
August 5, 2007

Tech Inspection

NASCAR, over the last 10+ years, has been elusively chasing manufacturer parity, the idea that no matter whether you ran Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, Pontiac or Ford, it would come down to the team and the driver to win races.  The new car is supposed to be as equal as is possible.  But how, if at all, does NASCAR respond when all the top teams seem to be Chevrolet teams anyway?

I don't think it's a matter of a Chevy advantage, I think it's just a combination of a little coincidence, cooperation and the prevalence of big multicar teams that has brought about this Chevrolet dominance.

The success of Hendrick, the resurgence of Childress, and strong running by a couple Gibbs cars and a couple DEI cars (a total of 11 cars - over one fourth of the field), combined with a Roush team not as strong as in years past and the struggles of Yates, Petty, and Evernham have combined to make the races look like an All Chevy Show.

Whether it lasts or not, I don't think it should be up to NASCAR to "fix" the situation.  Take Ford for example.  Wood Brothers hasn't been really competitive in years. Yates almost didn't exist this year.  But if Roush isn't winning races, well, there must be something wrong with the Fords, and they need help, right?

As much as I like Michael Waltrip or Carl Edwards, I'd really hate to see them get to Victory Lane because NASCAR twiddled with the cars to get the Toyotas or the Fords running closer to the Hendrick Chevys.

As long as NASCAR can assure that all the cars and engines are equal between manufacturers, they should just let the chips fall where they may, because "fixing" parity issues sometimes just results in a free ride to victory lane for someone who didn't earn their way there.

Tech Inspection II

One of the commentators of the Indy race at Michigan this weekend commented on the safety aspect of all that tech wizardry and telemetry in the current IRL car.  Danica Patrick was losing a pound of pressure a lap in her right rear tire, and she was able to bring it into the pits safely before the tire went down.  Had she been in a stock car, she might not have known she had a tire problem until she was sliding backwards into the turn 1 wall.

If NASCAR is concerned about introducing too much technology into the car setups, which would change the dynamic of NASCAR dramatically, they could always monitor the tires themselves and issue black flags when a tire goes critical, before it pops and causes a wreck.  Just a thought.

Qualifying

Congratulations to Michael Waltrip Racing, for the Pocono race was the first race this season where Michael Waltrip, Dale Jarrett and David Reutimann all drove together.  The cars all drove together at Infineon, but P.J. Jones drove the 00 car and Terry Labonte was in the 55.

Yellow Flag

I seem to be the only person of this opinion, but I think NASCAR got it right when they penalized Robby Gordon.  All they had to do was explain it all.  Robby Gordon was sent back to 13th for failing to slow down under caution, i.e. by passing Marcos Ambrose.  Why NASCAR didn't penalize Ambrose for the spin of Gordon is beyond me.  And when NASCAR tells you to do go to a certain spot in line, and you respond by starting where you damn well feel like, and blatantly spin out a race leader, I'm surprised that the one race in Pocono is all that Robby Gordon will miss.

Checkered Flag

It doesn't matter how good your case is in court if you go about presenting it the wrong way.  Whether or not he thought the facts on Saturday were in his favor, the way Robby Gordon presented his case didn't seem to win favor with the NASCAR judge, now did it?  NASCAR has admitted mistakes in the past and re-awarded race wins after the fact.  Lee Petty at Daytona and Wendell Scott come to mind.

However, in those situations the drivers handled themselves much differently.  So instead of a NASCAR official tapping Kevin Harvick on the shoulder and saying, "I'm sorry, but...," NASCAR suspended Gordon for the Pocono race, saying "The way he performed and his actions on the track, in our mind, certainly disrupted the conduct of that event.  We're not going to permit that, we're not going to allow that.  It's way over the line when it comes to conduct to on the track." (from NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp)

On top of that, he kind of ended up looking like an idiot, putting on a show of doing a burnout like he won the race right next to Kevin Harvick.  I've heard nothing but good things about Robby outside of his car, interacting with the fans or signing autographs, and it's just another example of how personalities change when they strap themselves into a race car.  It's too bad we can't get Autograph Session Robby in a race now and then.

The Postrace Show

Don't forget the Governor's Cup reuinions at The Milwaukee Mile (August 24-26) is coming up soon!  For more information, read the press release.



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